The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Failures of Democracy & the Original Intellectual Fascist

Bertrand Russel once called Plato the original intellectual fascist (in “A History of Western Philosophy,” which is well worth reading.)

In The Republic, Plato tries to come up with the ideal form of government and decides on a caste system, where children are educated, and then, based on their character and aptitude are divided into workers, enforcers, and rulers. The rulers are to be those who are philosophers by nature and training — those who love wisdom and are uninterested in wealth.

It’s easy to sneer at Plato, but there’s a reason why Whitehead’s line that “All of Western philosophy is but a footnote to Plato” has a lot of truth to it.

And one has to remember the context: Athenian democracy, the most famous in the Grecian world (and the most famous in Western history) had failed and been defeated by Sparta, after a reign of abuses which turned its allies against it. Entire cities were destroyed, with men killed and women and children sold into slavery. The most glorious city in their world, conquered and occupied.

Plato was never a democrat, and he hated Athenian democracy for killing his teacher Socrates, but he was looking at a real problem: those who became leaders in democracy were very often unsuited to rule. Pericles was great, aye, but he led Athens into a war it lost.

There are really two problems: the selection of leaders, and how they are treated. Lord Acton said that “power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Tends is important; it doesn’t happen to everyone, but it happens to most. When you’re powerful, you don’t have to care about other people without power, and over time, most people tend not to.

Further, powerful people spend time with other powerful people as equals or near equals and, in time, they become their own faction, and look after their own interests and not those of people without power.

The story of “crusading politician goes to the capital and gets corrupted” is ancient. A cliche. It’s a cliche because it happens most of the time; there are exceptions, but they are exceptions.

So, for any and all societies, the question is: How should we select leaders?

As I’ve said before, there can be no question that all societies on Earth have failed the leadership selection test (with the possible honorable exception of tiny, powerless Bhutan). We have failed because we knew of climate change and ecological collapse and we did nothing; indeed, we put our collective foot, hard, on the accelerator.

There’s an argument that this is just how humans are. There have been multiple collapses in history, including ecological, and we never seem to do anything to stop them.

But there’s another argument that we can find a better way.

Leadership and followership are related. I had this first brought home to me when I was in elementary school. From the third grade to halfway through sixth grade, I was in a class where the boys had two leaders. They were best friends, and they were friendly, inclusive of everyone, and tolerated no bullying. It wasn’t that they stopped it, though on a couple occasions did I see them step in, it was that their example was so much the opposite that it just didn’t happen.

Then, halfway through sixth grade, I went to another school and the leader of the boys was himself a bully, and bullying was rife.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen how groups and organizations become like the people who run them. Leadership is incredibly powerful, just by example, even before any “power” is used.

So the most important question in improving human society and groups is improving how we select and treat leaders, and by this measure, representative democracy has rather obviously failed.

This is noted often by conservative neo-reactionaries, but such folks are misguided at best. The eras of nobles or aristocrats (two different things), or of kings, were not better — they were often awful. The rise of agricultural kingships lead to cruelty of a type and scale hard for us now to imagine, and that continued throughout their history. One common punishment in Tudor England was opening someone’s stomach, pulling out their intestines and burning them while the person was alive; crowds would gather, treat this as entertainment and have a party while it was going on.

The answer to democracy’s failures isn’t some foolish nostalgia for a time which was worse; we need to find something genuinely new, or we will keep stumbling from catastrophe to catastrophe, and at some point said catastrophe will wipe us out.

So I suggest to readers to consider the question, which Plato tried to answer, of how to select, train, and treat rulers — and I would add that they should act in the best interests of all, especially including those they don’t know, both who are alive at the same time the leaders are, and those who will be alive after they are dead.

This is the human problem. If we can’t solve it, we can’t have good societies — save by chance and for brief periods.



Lithuania, Kaliningrad, and NATO Article Five


And Roe Is Gone: What’s Coming Up on the Chopping Block?


  1. different clue

    Many of the Indian Nations claim to have solved this question centuries or millenia ago.
    The Haudenosaunee in particular have extensive oral history of how they solved it after suffering from it.

    If these claims are as true as the Nations say they are, perhaps the Nations should be studied, or even asked “in person” how they diddit and could do it again if not interfered-with in the doing so.

    The vast urbanized/suburbanized populations of todays Social Insectoform megapopulation civilizations would make it much harder to apply Indian solutions. But maybe not impossible.

  2. Jason


    “The story of “crusading politician goes to the capital and gets corrupted” is ancient. A cliche. It’s a cliche because it happens most of the time; there are exceptions, but they are exceptions.”

    …is true – (it is) – then the statement…

    “So for any and all societies the question is how to select leaders.”

    ,,,doesn’t make sense.

    The problem is the structure of the society that allows for such concentrated power in the first place, that attracts these nutjobs (“leaders”), and which corrupts even the select few well-intentioned politicos – if there even are such personages.

    Should we put our energies towards attempting to select from the exceedingly small number of people who might enter politics with both an earnest desire to help the masses and the ability to remain above board once in office? Or is it easier to create societal structures that don’t allow for such positions of immense power in the first place?

    If concentrations of power are taken as a given, then how are those in power kept in check?

    Nothing new here, I’m afraid.

    The Haudenosaunee narrative is an important one.

  3. Trinity

    Agree, many (but not all) of the Native American tribes figured this out over millennia and made sure to pass down the necessary knowledge to future generations.

    They built a culture that was naturally inclusive (except for rape and murder), made life meaningful to all members, and had their own rituals and festivals to celebrate life and community.

    They used “ice floes” when necessary, if someone grew up a little bent, selfish, narcissistic, or acting recklessly. This is where the future of the tribe should matter more than a single individual. But they also encouraged members to identify their own desires and personal gifts or abilities, so that everyone could feel that they were contributing to the best of their ability.

    They honored their ancestors, but also (this is the most important part) actually had honorable ancestors. So a life is then naturally lived with the desire to be revered by future generations as an honorable ancestor. Can you imagine?

    They learned to husband the earth much better than we ever have, kept populations in check so as not to overstress Nature (carrying capacity) and maintained forests, water sources, and (wild and domestic) animal herds with great care and in some cases, reverence (sustainability). Imagine revering the very real things that actually provide us with life!

    So yes, the leaders I would vote for would be traditional native Americans. But I’ve written here before that many tribes never had one single “supreme” leader or “chief”. It’s been recorded that the arriving Europeans never really understood this. Unlike the Euros, they instead had multiple leaders ready to take over when the context or problem to be solved was the problem they had both trained for and had experience dealing with. That alone, combined with very careful definition of the problem to be solved, would solve a lot of our problems.

    But the combination of a culture that celebrates life, actually nurtures their children, makes decisions based on the needs of the next seven generations, husbands water and land and culture for present and future generations, encourages people to identify their own gifts, and trains people to learn how to deal with every possible outcome? Sounds like heaven to me.

  4. bruce wilder

    “In all our parks, in all our cities, there are no statues of committees.”

    Government by a human pyramid capped by a single “great” leader is a political failure of imagination. It is sad and pathetic that our common, shared understanding of how societies can be organized and social cooperation governed effectively for the mutual benefit of all comes down to such a primitive model.

    We have gotten Sunday homilies on the merits of a political philosophy of civic republicanism here for some time. Perhaps we would do well to pay more attention to the premises and details. Government of the People, by the People and for the People was a vision articulated by arguably the greatest of American leaders, a truly “great” man who was also remarkably “good”. No one, least of Lincoln himself thought Lincoln should be a dictator or even a font of all authority, like a constitutional monarch of some sort.

    A centralization of power and authority at the center and top that strips the periphery and base of its autonomous capacity to reason independently, control and adapt locally and exercise discretion in opposing or supporting common projects is a recipe for a brittle, blind and palsied state. What enables a polity to function well in advancing social cooperation for mutual benefit is political deliberation and inclusive negotiation of opposed interests. It is the legitimation of distributed power and opposed interests that modifies the corrupting “centralization” of power in the direction of flexible adaptiveness and negotiation of mutual benefit.

    The power and common wealth of a polity, a society is strengthened by the ability to deliberate publicly on the effect of general principles and policy, so common understanding of shared purposes and interests can emerge into political consciousness. That, I would argue, is the cement of a strong society, and the factor most likely to select a leader for the insights of abstract empathy — the critical factor is the character of the polity not of the politician

  5. anon y'mouse

    perhaps we should question why and if and when we actually need “leaders” at all.

    to go into battle? ok, yeah and probably following on from that, to respond to direct immediate threats of certain kinds.

    anything else? because hierarchy is itself to blame. anyone who has power over anyone else tends to exploit it and things go badly for the one exploited. any person that’s been in an unequal personal relationship (family, romantic, etc) can tell you that. teachers, priests, parents and community leaders all have exploited their power over children to their detriment, mostly husbands over wives, mostly bosses over those they manage, the elected over the public, doctors over patients….. even the ones who aren’t absolute sociopaths do it, because they can and the message of hierarchy is that they are absolutely justified, and that they must, and that they are absolved of most concerns that would plague and equal trying to do such things to another equal.

    so i would stop stressing “leadership” at all. since we obviously can’t do it, why keep building that failure into the system? recognizing difference in roles and aptitudes for certain roles are one thing, giving people authority broadly? no human has enough intelligence, self control, experience….the list is endless now that our knowledge has become specialized and expansive, to “rule” every area much less tell everyone what they should do. and even if they did (the one AI to rule us all) there are going to be people who can’t or won’t follow that properly and then they become “a problem” for the leaders.

    my memory goes back to a clinical counselling class i had once. a prevalent question was “how do i presume to tell my patients anything, when i can’t run my own life very well?”

    leaders don’t seem to be bothered at all by that question, or if they are bothered, they don’t stay in “leadership” long and then you get those who aren’t bothered. and if you aren’t bothered, then you’re already corrupt.

    let’s first find out where we need “leaders” and why we can’t all one in the right time and place, and most especially why democracy of a genuine kind can’t work (i say it’s not been tried, because those who benefit from hierarchy have been in charge and managed to stay in charge using any tactic possible–another exploitation of everyone by “leaders”). the problem with too many people is they wait around for leaders and authority, and the problem is that those who have that know they are necessary before anything can begin. it’s stifling human lives and potential, and always has been.

    Plato may have been the original to put it into writing, but whoever it was that dreamed up hierarchical personal relations to begin with

  6. Ché Pasa

    We can be overly smitten by the Great Man notion of human society and progress. I see it all the time and it’s devilish. Can easily be fascistic.

    I’ve written before about the tendency of societies to divide into bullies and their toadies on one side and everyone else on the other, but I haven’t really delved much into the tendency to scapegoat and create social-political-economic outcasts as a consequence of that division.

    It’s happened before in the United States and the Anglo-sphere in general, and the tendency is deeply embedded. Almost a psychic necessity for many people. Thus, in part, the mess of US politics.

    The point is sometimes made that Athenian “democracy” was awful for those not included in the demos. Which was most of the population. The Golden Age was only for some, not for all. It was consciously designed that way, and not by Plato who merely remarked on what he observed. Like so many philosophers, he then refined and justified it as the right and proper Natural Order of Things.

    Things went wrong due to lack of wisdom, not due to faulty systems, right? Surely the system will work fine with the right Wise Man in charge. Surely.

    Looking to Native societies to provide us with necessary wisdom today is, I think, a futile quest. Tribal and clan structures, matriarchal lineage, close but complex family ties and mutual obligations and strict disfellowshipping for those who don’t fit in or follow the rules would be nightmarish for most of us. And under intense pressure from the dominant society, it is difficult if not impossible for Natives to maintain their traditional social structure.
    Nor do we find the wisdom we seek in Buddhist societies. Buddhist are terrible at governing nations, can barely manage monasteries without some sort of scandal or upheaval.

    The US Founders were not saints, did some terrible things, and created what today looks more and more monstrous to much of the rest of the world — and to many within the US as well. No longer a model, it’s become a monster, and it would be that regardless of who is in charge. Fussing so much over which party or president is Better (or Worse) may be entertaining, but it doesn’t deal with the real problem.

    And that is? Well, there are so many, aren’t there..

  7. Stephen Bradley

    Bertrand Russell

  8. Dan Lynch

    It is true that leadership matters, but … when was the last time you heard anything about the leader of Switzerland? The Swiss don’t seem to be a leader-driven society. And until covid, Switzerland seemed to be a well run country. (Their decentralized approach to covid has IMHO been a failure.)

    I think one of the problems with the American presidency is that it has too much power. I would like to give more power to the people with a national referendum process. Any national policy more important than naming a post office should have to be approved by a national referendum — lotsa luck passing tax cuts for the rich or bank bailouts — and the public should be able to initiate referendums, similar to the Swiss referendum process. The referendum process should include amending the constitution by public referendum with say, 2/3 approval, bypassing the existing amendment process.

    And of course, all foreign wars, foreign deployments, military budgets, etc. should have to be approved by a national referendum.

    Likewise SCOTUS has too much power. The 9 SCOTUS justices should be changed to 50, one for each state, so that no one justice is particularly important. Marbury v. Madison should be overturned such that SCOTUS can only review national legislation when that legislation violates individual rights, similar to how the Swiss high court operates.

    Of course the filibuster should be eliminated in the Senate. Primaries should be replaced by ranked choice voting. Gerrymandered districts should be replaced with proportional representation.

    People are more likely to look out for each other if they are all in the same boat, but high economic inequality means we are in different boats. As I have commented in the past, I believe every worker should be paid the same, or nearly so. No one works 10 times or 100 times harder than anyone else. Perhaps some people work twice as hard, but they don’t work 10 times as hard, so why should they get paid 10 times as much?

    For better or worse, school is a form of social indoctrination, so if you want a cohesive society then all children should be required to attend the same public school system, as is done in Finland.

    But even if all my reforms happened, I suspect humans would still fail to adequately deal with “hard” problems like climate change or covid. There will always be conflicts between what is best for the individual vs. what is best for society, what is best for us today vs. what will be best for our grandchildren tomorrow, or what is best for humans vs. what is best for bears and tigers and forests and such. Changing human culture is hard, and takes time. It always has, and it always will. But covid and climate change are not going to wait.

  9. Kid Nate

    ” the critical factor is the character of the polity not of the politician”

    I think this is where mass media has killed us. Impossible to have a healthy civic body when the citizens are trained to sit mute before the idiot box or even worse, bickering and arguing on social media for the profit of silicon valley

  10. Willy

    Beneficial checking and balancing of concentrations of power is s a tough one, mostly because of who it is that usually wins power games. The defrauding, dissembling, deceiving, dissimulating, double dealer has more weapons to fight with than the honorable hero does. And of course after conquering power, their basic nature trickles down into the common culture.

    I’ll throw this out there for the sole purpose of stirring the pot: It’s all the women’s fault.

    Women are by nature, more agreeable, intuitive, relational, empathetic, kinder and gentler. Plus these days, more of them are achieving college degrees than males. You’d think they’d have a say in all this leadership carnage.

    Yet I’ve only known one instance personally, where a beautiful intelligent girl intentionally married what society might call “a weak male”, solely because of his character, and then stuck with him until death. I’ve seen many, many, instances of girls swooning over alpha assholes to later be disposed of, wives rationalizing a husbands darker impulses, and men whose ‘falling down’ was cause for abandonment.

    Are the incel gurus right? Most women don’t want the love. They want the stuff and the status. If true, then human society might be missing what should be a critical checks and balances against darker impulses at the leadership level.

  11. Willy

    As for native Americans… The Aztecs terrified their neighbors with bullying so much that other bullies, odd looking strangers, were welcomed as saviors. The Comanche went from being just another poor tribe to dominant regional terror with a change in leadership. The Mayan urban-rural society collapsed entirely due to poor foresight and planning. What caused those failures, vs. other native American successes?

  12. Soredemos

    “A History of Western Philosophy”, which is well worth reading”

    Eh, not really. It’s actually a pretty shitty, shamelessly biased work of intellectual history. No one who takes philosophy remotely seriously seems to think much of it as a serious work.

    As for the supposed defects of democracy, the answer is ever and always more democracy. As in actual democracy. Because whenever I see someone complaining about ‘democracy’, it’s always some very loose definition of the term. So whether it be the 5% of the population, rich land owning men, of Plato’s era, or the various abstractive layers of modern parliamentary ‘democracy’, it’s interesting how targets for bashing the defects of democracy never seem to involve much more directly democratic systems like a system of soviets.

  13. different clue

    Here is a politikoan . . . .

    Nazi Germany is still the purest expression of Pure Civilization that the world has ever seen.

    Now . . . did I just praise Nazi Germany? Or did I just condemn Civilization?

  14. Art

    Corruption matters but at low (often ceremonial; Japanese) levels and with those resistant to it, not so much. Wealth and power also comes with narrowing, spinning, and isolation from the wider array of knowledge. Pericles, while incorruptible, was clearly operating out of ignorance. Of epidemiology and the effects of concentration of population without increased emphasis on sanitation, if not of Spartan strength.

    As with most things, it is complicated. Pure democracy, unalloyed, is not enough. Which is why we have a constitution intended to protect the individual from the whims of the masses. McCarthy highlighted how that might fail. Particularly when combined with the media/ propaganda technology of Edward Bearnaise and the ability of money to buy minds/ attitudes/ popular sentiment. Plato hadn’t considered using a set of broadly phrased laws to protect minorities and individuals.

    But then again we have yet to find a counter to abuses of media technology and propaganda. Education helps but that option is being foreclosed by media concentration, effective de-funding of public schools, outlawing of CRT, and any other line of questioning that might interfere with the systematic narrowing of the minds and interests of the populous. If I read one more ancestor worshiping tract explaining that slavery was not so bad, mostly cooperative and really beneficial for blacks, I will puke.

    The GOP (GQP) looks to be set to win and turn the US into Russia. On one hand a land of dirt poor ignorance but totally indoctrinated and convinced of their moral superiority. A land where better than 80% shit in glorified holes in the ground and 20% drink contaminated drinking water part of the year. I’ve a neighbor who used to do business in Russia, has the photos, and he cites the statistics.

    He also documents his interactions with the other side, oligarchs that are completely disconnected from the reality of poverty and a complete lack of hope. People completely above the law. People who can literally rape, murder, and plunder at will. People who only fear Putin.

    It is a nation ruled by violence, as all fascist nations are.

    It is an attractive prospect for an entire political party in the US. An orderly system where everyone knows their place. You know who you can beat up and who you can’t. Wives, and of course, gays and trans folk are always fair game. Along with this is a tacit understanding of the accepted levels of corruption. Putin, perhaps the richest man on the planet, is said to get half of all of the oligarch’s business.

    At odds with the established mythological ideal of the great leader being incorruptible. Nothing a little propaganda and a few posters can’t put right. Cognitive dissonance is a wondrous thing.

    Then again, life is like that. You may do everything right, to the best of your understanding and capability, and still fail. Eventually the US will outgrow fascism. It always happens that way, Sparta, Italy, Germany, Japan, Spain. Franco is still dead. As the joke goes … LOL

    The celebration of strength and disgust at weakness is not a pose that can be held indefinitely. Even if you can regularly blow off steam by getting drunk and beating up queers. Things tend to cycle more rapidly in this modern world. So, a couple of centuries, at most.

    Life goes on. Soon enough … not my problem.

  15. Trinity

    “Looking to Native societies to provide us with necessary wisdom today is, I think, a futile quest.”

    And yet we live under a constitution written with the assistance of a Native American tribe, the Iroquois, whose societal structure was much admired by our founding fathers. The founders left out some important bits (so they could ensure ownership only applied to white males, etc.) and they also left out the bit about *everyone* must agree before a change in policy or status (should we go to war? Or not? Etc.) And US women still couldn’t vote back then, etc., while native women had an equal voice.

    “What caused those failures, vs. other native American successes?”

    Organization by hierarchy … I personally would take the wisdom of the crowd over any decision made by the powerful few. The comments here mostly illustrate that wisdom very well.

  16. different clue


    You are correct and it is good to point these things out. What caused some failures of fairness and kept other successes successful?

    And after the Maya civiliZATion collapsed, what allowed millions of Maya people, as people with their language, knowledge, etc. to survive for many centuries thereafter, including surviving ( so far) the ongoing era of Spanish Settler Lebensraum occupation?

    About the Maya in particular, I would suggest that members of the Hippie Fringe of Western Civilization have already studied the Maya and have brought us back a Western Re-Translation of “the answer”. An answer so at odds with Civilization that so far only members of the Hippie Fringe of Western Civilization are prepared to accept it.

    And here it is . . .

  17. bruce wilder

    It is an attractive prospect for an entire political party in the US.

    If it were only clear that it was NOT an attractive proposition for at least one entire political party. Sigh.

    Putin, perhaps the richest man on the planet, is said to get half of all of the oligarch’s business.

    Said by whom? I have never seen any real evidence of Putin’s gargantuan wealth. It is not as if he could hide wealth of such a magnitude.

    Not saying Putin’s official story of middle-class sufficieny is even a little credible. I just think it is interesting that this is the hyperbolic propaganda trope chosen by those defending the U.S. oligarchy of globalist billionaires to attack an adversary.

  18. Z

    Putin, perhaps the richest man on the planet, is said to get half of all of the oligarch’s business.

    And somehow the Panama and Pandora Papers (which by the way found plenty of dirty money surrounding War Pimp Zelenskyy) somehow couldn’t find anything on Putin. Mind you that they also didn’t find anything on the U.S. oligarchs in the Pandora Papers which tells you who probably ran or oversaw the investigations and therefore means they were looking like hell to try to find something on Putin but somehow couldn’t.

    All these Putin hidden riches bs sounds like a Billy Browder tale. It’s there somehow but we just can’t see it. We’re supposed to just trust Billy, one of the crooks that Putin bounced from Russia …


  19. Willy


    The article seems to claim that the Mayans willfully dispersed back into the forest. After a collapse, sure, I’d buy that. But I could also assume that the forest regrew around the survivors after the population collapsed.

    But then, they were in the middle of a human sacrifice culture. Not sure how long that’d work out for peaceful forest dwellers to be surrounded by murderous nutjobs. I remember Gibson’s Apocalypto movie. Modern Mayans thought the effects and costumes were pretty cool even if the movie wasn’t very historically accurate.

    Temple ruins of city state centers are everywhere indicating a once high population. Agriculture was the only means we knew of which allowed for population density, which means forcing the land to focus solely on feeding a human density instead allowing a natural ecosystem, which doesn’t consider human needs a priority and thus a lower human population density. I’d think there’d be more forest evidence, in the form of descendants of human-beneficial fruit trees and animals everywhere.

    Of course, I might be missing their point. As for fallen native civilizations, they all seem to be the largest of the bunch, meaning human power was concentrated.

  20. Art

    Putin doesn’t brag or advertise his wealth. There is no need.

    All the other wealthy people buy things, or influence, perhaps even having laws written that favor them, their tax status, or their investments. Putin effectively owns a large, wealthy, powerful, nuclear armed country. All of it. At every level. Without any oversight or controls that are not voluntary or provisional pending Putin’s consent. Putin, in a very medieval manner, is king. Effectively chosen by ‘God’, unquestionable, the symbol of the nation, the hope of the nation, a paragon in all things. As Nixon said ‘when president (or autocrat) does it , it is not illegal’. There is nothing done or avoided that cannot be undertaken or reversed by mechanism he controls. He is Russia.

    This is why Trump was so worshipful. He wanted to have that power. The GOP sees Putin, and Viktor Orbán, as an ideal. US presidents face limits on what they can do and how they can do them. Everything takes time and there are bureaucracies and rules and procedures. And anyone can protest and potentially tie things up in court. None of those limits or controls exists for Putin in Russia.

    Please, don’t take my word for it. I offer a video because it is a fair summary in a compact package. I had it in mind. But it just slightly scratches the surface. Dig. But remember that laws, legislatures, and courts are not the same in the US and Russia. Everything we think of as unfair and corrupt is orders of magnitude worse in Russia. In Russia nobody moves against Putin without his consent. And controlling all sides of an argument gives you a lot of control.

    Russians, as a people, the few I’ve met and from people with much more contact, are not particularly corrupt, evil, or unfair. But the system they live under is. We are not saints, or in any way immune. Our primary saving grace has been diversity, division, and a whole lot or luck and happenstance.

    Many oligarchs in the west think Russia is their paradise. They forget that the oligarchs have no actual control over the autocrat. Unfortunately, being used to having their own way, they think they, perhaps because they are special, will have control. They will only be fully disabused of his misconception when when the secret police put the cuffs on.

    It has always been this way.

  21. Soredemos


    “And yet we live under a constitution written with the assistance of a Native American tribe, the Iroquois, whose societal structure was much admired by our founding fathers.”

    Literally made up bullshit. The US Constitution fundamentally exists in the English Common Law tradition, with massive influence from Montesquieu added in, all filtered through the fact that the founders were all Greek and Latin speaking intellectual elitists. Any influence from the Great Law of Peace is ancillary at best.

  22. Z


    Everything we think of as unfair and corrupt is orders of magnitude worse in Russia.

    How much time have you spent in Russia and what did you do there? If you haven’t spent any time there, then what are you basing this statement upon? Western sources? Billy Browder?!

    All the other wealthy people buy things, or influence, perhaps even having laws written that favor them, their tax status, or their investments. Putin effectively owns a large, wealthy, powerful, nuclear armed country. All of it. At every level.

    OK, I get it: the reason none of Putin’s plunder is traceable, even though we damn well know there’s plenty of Western governments dying to find proof of it, is that all of it is in Russia and Putin owns Russia, he is Russia, and that’s where all the receipts are and nobody can get to them but Putin.

    The video you posted is basically an Evening with Billy Browder. Have you ever read up on Browder?

    Here’s some of the hits in his wiki (

    Browder started his career in the Eastern European practice of the Boston Consulting Group in London then worked for Robert Maxwell’s MCC conglomerate, and after that managed the Russian proprietary investments desk at Salomon Brothers.

    Robert Maxwell is Ghislaine’s pa. I don’t know, and it is not clear from his wiki, what his relationship was with Maxwell though.

    In 1999, Avisma filed a RICO lawsuit against Browder and other Avisma investors including Kenneth Dart, alleging they illegally siphoned company assets into offshore accounts and then transferred the funds to U.S. accounts at Barclays. Browder and his co-defendants settled with Avisma in 2000; they sold their Avisma shares as part of the confidential settlement agreement.

    From 1995 to 2006, Hermitage Capital Management was one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, and Browder amassed millions through his management of the fund. In both 2006 and 2007, he earned an estimated £125–150 million.

    In March 2013, HSBC, a bank that serves as the trustee and manager of Hermitage Capital Management, announced that it would end the fund’s operations in Russia. The decision was taken amid two legal cases against Browder: a libel court case in London and a trial in absentia for tax evasion in Moscow.

    In June 2018, HSBC reached a settlement with the Russian government to pay a £17 million fine to Russian authorities for its part in alleged tax avoidance.

    In 2005, after ten years of business deals in Russia, Browder was blacklisted by the Russian government as a “threat to national security” and denied entry to the country. The Economist wrote that the Russian government blacklisted Browder because he interfered with the flow of money to “corrupt bureaucrats and their businessmen accomplices”. Other experts on the activities of Western “investors” in Russia in the 1990s were more sympathetic to the Russian government’s assessment, citing Browder’s earlier settlement agreement with Avisma, which seemed to indicate a long-standing habit of siphoning off funds to offshore accounts. He also had been found guilty of evading some $40 million in taxes by using fake deductions. Browder had earlier supported Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    Browder admitted having sought influence in Gazprom, but denied any wrongdoing. He said that purchasing Gazprom shares was an investment in the Russian economy, and the desire to influence the Gazprom management was driven by the need to expose a “huge fraud going on at the company”. However, at the time it was illegal for foreigners to buy Gazprom shares in Russia, and he did it through shell companies that hid his ownership.

    On November 22, 2019, German news magazine Der Spiegel published an article in which it claimed Browder accusations concerning the “Magnitsky Case”, do not withstand thorough examination. The English version appeared on November 26, 2019. After Browder filed a complaint against this article with chief editorship of Der Spiegel and the German Press Council, Der Spiegel published a further article, releasing its evidence and emphasising its stance on the matter.

    I can’t tell you for sure who is all lying in these matters and about what, but neither can you. But, by all means, let’s give Billy the floor and believe everything that comes out of his mouth even though he has no tangible proof of any of it. Take it away, Billy …


  23. different clue

    I think it is more the Articles of Confederation which was designed with regards to the “Confederation of Separate Entities” feature of the Haudenosaunee system.

    Here is an article from American Indian Law Review about how much influence or not the Great Law of Peace lent inspiration or even advice to technical aspects of American Constitutionalism. People can read this if they want and decide how much of it is bullShit and how much is bullShinola.

    I remember reading once that Benjamin Franklin is said to have been very impressed with the Great Law of Peace, but I can’t begin to find it with the Search Obstruction Engines we have today. Finding anything is total random luck nowadays with the Search Obstruction Engines of today.

  24. different clue

    Oh, and .. . here is the link to that article.

  25. Art

    Z – Given the reflexive light character assassination (Ghislaine? Really?), and the fact nothing you offer contradicts any of my points I’ll just leave it there.

    Anyone seeking more information might reference the testimony and evidence cited around the Magnitsky Act.

    My assertion that Putin is, in effect, a pre-Magna Carta king without any need for accounts or official titles proving ownership is a synthesis but one I think is very well, and easily, supported.

    He has all the levers of power and there isn’t any independent body to appeal to. The only thing he has to fear is a coup (military or intelligence service) or, even more unlikely and random, a protest widespread and numerous enough to overwhelm the propaganda, police, and other mechanisms of control.

  26. Soredemos

    @different clue

    An eleven page mini article pamphlet in a Native journal is hardly compelling evidence of anything. Franklin didn’t write the Articles of Confederation, much less the Constitution. And confederations and legal alliances were not remotely invented by the Iroquois. These were not somehow alien concepts Europeans had never encountered before.

  27. Z


    Folks like you “just know”, I suppose.


  28. bruce wilder

    My assertion that Putin is, in effect, a pre-Magna Carta king without any need for accounts or official titles proving ownership is a synthesis but one I think is very well, and easily, supported.

    I think the information environment is so thin of factual oxygen and so flooded with hot gasses dissipating into the ether that a lot of people, on a lot issues take Art’s epistemic approach. Sure, clothed in the immense authority of Russian Federation President, it is as if Putin is unimaginably rich; how about that art collection? –wowsers, right!?

    This is what the American way of propaganda does to our ability to have a democratic discourse concerning an objective, shared reality.

  29. Z

    Who is Bill Browder?

    So I still ask “Who is Bill Browder?”

    Jeffrey Epstein’s specific crimes aside, is Browder just another construct of the Intelligence Agencies? Where does he get the leverage to silence all his critics and have instant access to a compliant media at a minute’s notice, and is free to tell his lies and spew his Russophobic vitriol to Parliaments across the globe, including Australia in May 2020. Not only without question, when he smears scrupulously honest journalists like Komisar, the politicians “believe” Browder, again because his story has been specifically tailored to give cynical politicians the excuse to sanction anyone on the planet, on the basis of “Human Rights” violations. Apart from being grossly unfair, a violation of national sovereignty, in the countries affected, which are never Western, it simply convinces the populace that “Human Rights” are a sham.

    These questions need to be asked, by the people of any so-called democracy, God knows no media or politician will, before any nation passes any poisonous legislation based on the word of Browder.


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